According to BP, drivers whose vehicles rely on burning oil have a little more than a half-century to find alternate sources of energy. Or walk.
BP’s annual report on proved global oil reserves says that as of the end of 2013, Earth has nearly 1.688 trillion barrels of crude, which will last 53.3 years at current rates of extraction. This figure is 1.1 percent higher than that of the previous year. In fact, during the past 10 years proven reserves have risen by 27 percent, or more than 350 billion barrels.
The increased amount of oil in the report include 900 million barrels detected in Russia and 800 million barrels in Venezuela. OPEC nations continue to lead the world by having a large majority of the planet’s reserves, or 71.9 percent.
As for the United States, which lately has been ramping up oil extraction through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, BP says its proven oil reserves are 44.2 billion barrels, 26 percent higher than in BP’s previous report. This is more than reported most recently by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which had raised its own estimate by 15 percent to 33.4 billion barrels.
Related Article: Oil Production Numbers Keep Going Down
That means shale-oil extraction enterprises in the United States have more to offer than many first believed. The sources include the Bakken formation spanning Canadian and U.S. territory in the West, the Eagle Ford formation in East Texas and the super-rich Permian Basin in West Texas, which alon holds 75 billion barrels of recoverable fossil fuels.
And though Eagle Ford and Bakken seem to hold far less oil, EOG Resources, which has been working Eagle Ford, has increased its estimates of the site’s reserves. The Motley Fool reports that its latest estimate of recoverable fuel is 3.2 billion barrels, more than the nearly 1 billion barrels expected in 2010.
Nevertheless, BP is cautious in defining oil reserves. At the top of an introductory web page on the subject, the company states baldly: “Nobody knows or can know how much oil exists under the earth's surface or how much it will be possible to produce in the future.”
And while the amount of proven oil reserves, and their extraction, are rising each year, so is concern about how their recovery. Not only do new extraction methods use huge amounts of energy to get even more energy, particularly from shale, they also use chemicals and metals that many fear poison nearby soil and groundwater, and generate huge amounts of toxic wastewater.
Such methods are helping the United States, for example, to achieve energy independence. But that won’t apply to China, a huge customer for fossil fuels. BP says Asia-Pacific oil reserves will last only 14 years at current rates. That means China will have to keep importing oil, putting further strain on global reserves.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Today, we are faced with drilling much deeper with longer runs to gather highly disbursed, tightly held oil in shale. Shale oil is very expensive to extract. The question is: how much more expensive is it going to get? And, will the world price for oil stay above $100? Today's oil is up from $35/barrel in 2003. Oil economics are getting a little marginal from the consumer's point of view. As I said, we will run out of dollars before we run out of oil.
In fact oil will last "forever". The problem is not the total oil reserves. The total will be limited by the willingness to pay whatever it costs to get it. No one willingly will want to go broke extracting oil which costs more than the buyers will pay.
Already tight oil is selling at less than cost. That will be more like the future.
Renewables are no panacea, what we need is actually oil, in all its fractions.
Even if a new source for energy is discovered within the next decade that is as economical and efficient as cheap oil was), it would take another 20-years to make that source of energy universally available.
So, if BP's estimates of the world's supply of cheap oil are to be trusted, the window of opportunity to save ourselves just shrank to 20-years. And with the world being so expert at denying its problems (like how Climate Change doesn't exit), and to cover unpleasant realities with more and more (not less or even enough) of "hope and change" . . . well good luck with that.
The pessimistic imperative is also worth listening to entitled "You have no idea how wrong you are" a more humorous look at why Humans get things wrong all the time! (also on you tube.
* Oil that requires less energy to produce than what is extracted (EROEI-positive) is rapidly disappearing
* Problems don't begin when EROEI-positive oil runs out, but when production peaks
* The statement "at current rates of extraction" doesn't account for increasing population or rising standards of living in 3rd world countries
All this together means we have significantly less than 53 years's worth. Which wasn't a lot to begin with.
Note that "during the past 10 years proven reserves have risen by 27 percent, or more than 350 billion barrels", which is more than the world used in that interval. The reason is, of course, that the price of oil has skyrocketed during that time, moving all sorts of previously non-economically extractable oil into the reserves column. As others have pointed out, this increase in "proven reserves" does nothing to bolster per capita oil consumption or the economy in general.
Even as the rate of oil production collapses, as it inevitably must some day, and prices soar higher and higher, we will find that we will still have many decades of reserves available at the new (lower) rate of production. That will be little consolation to those millions who find themselves starving in the dark.